What is a brooder? In short, it is somewhere that chicks are kept warm and safe, fed and watered, until they are old enough to be released into the yard and coop with the bigger hens.
You can make a brooder out of a simple cardboard or plastic box (with the lid removed), or a bath tub, or you can buy a chick starter kit.
Your brooder will need a heater, and some form of substrate. Kitchen towel, simply laid in sheets, is ideal. Some people also use sand, but bear in mind this can become uncomfortably hot from a brooder heater.
If you are using a plastic-based brooder, you will also need a non-slip mat (such as you might use in your bath tub) to help your chicks find their feet, and prevent splay leg from chick slipping on plastic flooring while their leg bones are still fusing.
If you’re thinking of rearing chicks, bear in mind that they make a lot of noise, and a lot of mess – and that they are often significantly brighter than adult chickens, as well as being very inquisitive.
As soon as they’ve worked out how to bounce, leap, and flap, they’ll be out of the brooder and running amok in your house! Poultry keeping and being house-proud typically don’t go all that well together.
Where to Site Your Brooder
The same basic principles apply to where you situate a poultry brooder as apply to keeping small, caged pets. You don’t want the brooder to be in a draft, or in direct sunlight, you want it out of the reach of other pets, and somewhere you can easily keep an eye to your chicks, but where they won’t be being unsettled by a lot of back and forth, particularly at night, when they should be sleeping.
The brooder will need to be on a flat, level surface, where it won’t get accidentally knocked or kicked.
This is the One
The best brooder we’ve found is the Brinsea EcoGlow. Far safer than a heat bulb – which can shatter, spraying your chicks with hot glass – and designed specifically for brooders, the EcoGlow is height adjustable, so will see your chicks through the whole of their first few weeks, until they’re ready to look after themselves, allowing them to get underneath it, where most of the warmth is, easily.
The EcoGlow features an indicator light, so you can quickly and easily check that it’s working, and your brooder is getting the heat your chicks need. Bear in mind that the EcoGlow doesn’t throw out a lot of spare, or ambient, heat – don’t make your brooder larger than it needs to be, and, if you’re rearing a lot of chicks, and need the space, consider investing in more than one EcoGlow.
EcoGlow also offer the option of purchasing a chick starter kit, which provides the brooder heater with easy-assemble panels to build a durable brooder pen. However, active chicks will quickly learn to escape the pen!
- Suitable for chicks of varying ages
- EcoGlow brooder pen is easy-assemble, and durable
- Active chicks will quickly work out how to escape the brooder pen
- The EcoGlow brooder heater does not provide a lot of ambient heat; if you have a large brooder, it would be worth purchasing two units.
Who Is It For?
Anyone starting out with chicks, who wants to raise their chickens from day-old right through to free-ranging layers in their own home.
Value For Money?
This is a fairly pricey unit, and costs more if you purchase it with the brooder pen, but the EcoGlow will see your chicks through from day old to point of lay, when they should be fine to be put out in the coop. This saves you having to purchase different units throughout the rearing of your chicks.